The Fallible Man

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A Different Kind of Man a different kind of Lifestyle


How to Safeguard Your Mental Health as a Man with Dr. Christian Heim

S02E32 The Fallible Man Podcast

[00:00:00] David Dowlen: The most dangerous thing in the world today and for men is not some big, scary thing out there, but it's our own mental health guys. The statistics are staggering throughout the world and there's no borders and nationalities that this is isolated to. And there's just no way around it. Men are facing a crisis that's been happening in the shadows and it's happened long before the pandemic.

[00:00:24] So guys people don't like to talk about it. We're going to today. So Buckle in, because my guest today is award winning psychiatrist, Dr. Christian Heim, and we're going to get into it right now.

[00:00:36] Be better tomorrow because of what you do today. Welcome to fallible man podcast your home for all things, man, husband and father. My name is Brent and today my guest is Dr. Christian. Heim? Be sure to head over to his website, www. to see so much more that Dr. Heim has to share. I was enjoying his website earlier today.

[00:00:59] He's got some amazing blogs links to his books and other podcasts he's been on as well as he has his own YouTube channel. And guys, you need to check it out because he makes things make sense with music, which for me is huge. Dr. Heim, I was watching some of your videos you did with your wife and. The ability to communicate some very complicated issues using music just makes them so much more understandable.

[00:01:24] I am just in awe Sir. It is impressive. Welcome to the

[00:01:27] Dr. Christian Heim: show. Brent look, thank you very much for that introduction. Thank you very much for having me on here. I'm excited to be here. I'm glad you liked the videos because it's it's something that my wife and I share because we both have a performative side of ourselves.

[00:01:41] And so we get to use those in the context of podcasts and of course, a preventative mental health message.

[00:01:48] David Dowlen: Congratulations on your new book. The seven types of love. I remember when we first got in contact. We had scheduled this and it was actually going to happen before your book was published. And then we had some disconnects with some health issues and a bunch of stuff going on in my life.

[00:02:05] And so thank you for getting back with me on this, by the way. I do appreciate you being willing to reschedule the congratulations on the book. I read the reviews on Amazon. I haven't read it yet, but it is getting glowing reviews on Amazon. You've gotta be happy about that.

[00:02:19] Dr. Christian Heim: Oh look, I am. And I was happy to write a book on love because I thought I thought in this day and age is love just a platitude.

[00:02:27] And the more I thought about it as a psychiatrist, I thought, no, we, as a society, don't actually have a handle on what love is. So of course I went through all the scientific aspects of love. That was one way of looking at things. And also it was quite a limited way of looking at things. So I went back to ancient Greece, where they had many more names of love.

[00:02:48] And of course we have all these different types of love operating in our lives. And if we're able to articulate the different love types with the different names, then we will have much more of an understanding of what love is and how to know it and how to show it in our life. There's part of

[00:03:05] David Dowlen: me is Brent there's.

[00:03:06] Part of me that almost wishes we were talking about that today because it is a little bit of a lighter subject, but actually I want to delve back to a previous book, he wrote called the five steps of men's mental health. I think that men's mental health is something that just get swept under the rug so much these days.

[00:03:24] And it is a major crisis in the making. It's something I've been following for some time, but before we start deep diving into. I've got to ask you, what is your favorite kind of ice cream? What

[00:03:35] Dr. Christian Heim: kind of ice cream is an important question. All right.

[00:03:39] David Dowlen: So

[00:03:41] Dr. Christian Heim: I actually, I do love a good vanilla. There's not too much ice cream that I don't like.

[00:03:46] And sometimes some of the fruit flavors like watermelon can really get me going. So, yeah,

[00:03:50] David Dowlen: I've never had a watermelon ice cream. That's not something you see in the stores. Okay, I'm jealous. That sounds amazing. I love watermelon. Are you a regular vanilla French vanilla, vanilla bean guy, or doesn't matter?

[00:04:04] Dr. Christian Heim: Look vanilla is just wonderful. And quite frankly, I liked the I liked the variety of all flavors. The world offers such a pallet for us to to partake of there's a lot out there.

[00:04:15] David Dowlen: So Dr. Heim, I've read. The many credits to your name, sir. I mean, you have had an prestigious and impressive career and I am a lousey podcast host because I choose not to introduce my guests, the way a lot of podcast host.

[00:04:30] I was actually listening to one you were on earlier. And the nice young woman was incredible with how much she covered, but unfortunately, That's only impressive to certain people, but what I guess are more important is more important to my guests at this point is tell me from your perspective, who is Dr.

[00:04:50] Christian Heim? Why are you here today? What brings you with us?

[00:04:55] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay. Brent I'm glad you put it in that perspective because prestige sounds all very impressive, but it actually isn't because at the heart of everybody that I have treated as a psychiatrist and I have treated university professors, I have treated other psychiatrists.

[00:05:10] I've treated doctors and I've treated people who have done all sorts of things in their lives. We are all people. And underneath the facade of how well we're doing, we are all human beings. So in other words, we actually are flesh and blood. We are not defined by what we do. So I have this little saying, I say that we are human beings, not human doings, because men, as you know, often define themselves in terms of what they do.

[00:05:37] And because men. A lot of men, unfortunately play a social hierarchy games in life. It means that we miss out on each other as human beings, as actual people. So we miss out on the love side of us, and this is part of the crisis because the world, if anything, is moving further into the area of you are what you do.

[00:06:00] What we're doing at the moment podcasting it's a numbers game and the higher the numbers, the better somebody thinks that they are, but it doesn't matter what the numbers are. It doesn't change who you are as a person. And fortunately, as a psychiatrist behind the doors of my office, I get to hear the stories of real people.

[00:06:19] We make a connection. As people. And I suppose that's why we're in a bit of a crisis at the moment because we're losing connection with each other.

[00:06:29] David Dowlen: I was going to ask actually that leads into my next question beautifully. What do you think, why do you think mental health is such a major issue for men and is not being covered?

[00:06:43] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay. So firstly, Brent, it's a major issue for all of society because we have huge rises in depression, anxiety. If we just want to talk about suicide, we're almost up to 50,000 people per year in the United States going up by 4% a year. And that is. Ridiculous overdoses the opioid crisis that we have.

[00:07:05] We can go to any area of mental health and it's rising, which tells me one thing. Brent, it's got nothing to do with our genetics because our genetic material has not changed appreciably for about 60,000 years now. So it's something in the way that we live. And the word that I want to use to this, to discuss the way that we're living is actually fragmentation.

[00:07:28] We're breaking down. We're not coming together. In fact, just here, where we're talking about men's mental health, we're really fragmenting from women. We talk about a feminist movement to do things that are important for women, not for men. So right there, we have a huge fragmentation. And so our society rather than.

[00:07:48] Coming together because you know what we need men and women and everybody in this society to work together for good mental health. But unfortunately we are all looking towards our own interests. So one of the things, one of the side effects of our incredibly prosperous and amazing society. Is hyperindividualism we become so concerned about what we ourselves want, that we forget about a connection with other people.

[00:08:16] And so when it comes to the five steps to mental health, In that book. I asked guys to look at their connections to make sure that they connected with other people that includes men. That includes women, that includes children. And in the love book, of course, I talk about how men can have good relationships with each other, as well as relationships with women.

[00:08:37] Well, his relationships with family members and other people in society. So it's a whole package, Brent, and it's very complex.

[00:08:44] David Dowlen: I can only. Imagine that we're barely going to scratch the surface today, unfortunately, but guys, let me say right now, if you think you are struggling and I'm more focused on men, just because my channel is focused for men, but now I'm married with two daughters and seven nieces and a bunch of sister-in-laws.

[00:09:05] So I this is actually more about my children than anything. Yeah. But guys, if you're struggling. At all, please, please, please. Don't think you've got to go it alone. Don't try and tough it out. Seek support. Seek help. Do not go it alone. Get help now. Don't wait guys. We all wait so bad for everything. I loved the, I don't know what the proper term is.

[00:09:34] A little blurred. You put about this particular book. In Amazon and says, trust me guys, we wait too long. I know I'm a guy and I laughed so hard because that is me. I gotta be dying and go to the doctor and I'm certainly gotta be pretty bad for anything else I asked for. So guys, don't wait and we're gonna dig right in with Dr.

[00:09:54] Heim, Dr. Heim, let's get into it. What's the first step that we need to start taking to fix our, prepare our mental health.

[00:10:05] Dr. Christian Heim: One of the things Brent is that we live in peace time. And society would change if there was a war. And unfortunately, a lot of the male characteristics that we have grown up to believe men are a part of forged in war time. So in wartime, stoicism is valued because when you're on the battlefield, you don't have time to ask if your feelings are hurt, or if you're getting your needs met because you have a job to do, and you've got to get out there and do it.

[00:10:39] This mentality is part of all men's lives. So the first thing that we need to do is actually take care of ourselves as human beings, which means sometimes. Putting your hand up saying, I need some help, which also means sometimes saying how things are going on inside, inside your head, because there's this feeling that nobody wants to know.

[00:11:02] And I've got to tell you a little story about that because I work with a lot of war veterans, people who have seen trauma on the battlefield. And one thing that we do a lot of is group theater. And all these guys that feel so ashamed because there's this idea that you're somehow less of a man. If you need help, psychiatrically start sharing their stories.

[00:11:27] And then invariably, somebody says me too. That's exactly how I felt. I didn't believe somebody else felt that way. And so right there, there's a connection that no guy is alone. There are other people that experience exactly what I want to exactly, but the same sort of thing. And in that kinship, you're not alone and because you're not alone, there's help and incentive to move forward.

[00:11:57] So the first step is actually taking care of yourself, knowing that you are worthwhile as a human being,

[00:12:04] David Dowlen: that is such a hard step for most of us as men to let down that guard. And. I, so when you talk about the counseling with the veterans, I've got a lot of my family has served in the military. I've got a lot of friends with PTSD and yeah, it's the sad state of soldiers who go without the support and the treatment or feeling like they should be up, that they can get what they need just very near and dear to my heart.

[00:12:34] So thank you for your work with the soldiers.

[00:12:37] Dr. Christian Heim: No, that's all right. To the soldiers and to everybody in the armed forces, not only thank you for your service, but we are in all of what you do, because we actually need those people to keep defending our freedoms. And it is something that we take for granted in our society.

[00:12:57] And if we were able to appreciate each other more than we would feel more in relationship with each other,

[00:13:04] David Dowlen: Let's keep rolling. What's the next step? The next I know you got somewhere to be today, so let's,

[00:13:08] Dr. Christian Heim: I do. I do I, the next step is one that I put together specifically to do something about suicidal thoughts and and all of those.

[00:13:18] For somebody to contemplate doing away with themselves means that they're not only in a dark place, but they're, there alone. So I have this analogy. Our society is like a an ocean where the waves are pounding you. Now, if you're swimming in an ocean like that you need to have a safety net. You need to be connected with other people who have ropes to you to make sure that you are nice and secure.

[00:13:46] But if you stop talking to your father, you've cut one rope. If you haven't spoken to a friend for years, that's another rope cut. If you're isolating and not getting on with your kids, you're cutting another rope. So how many ropes can we cut before? You're there by yourself. And unfortunately, I, in my practice, I have lost people to suicide and they end up in this space where they feel that they are alone.

[00:14:16] So step two is basically stay in relationship and look. Females do this much better than males. Something about caveman times taking care of the community and the children while men went out, hunting, something like that, that may have something to do with it. But that doesn't mean that men are not good at relationships.

[00:14:38] We actually are. Women are slightly better. However, we are all relational beings. So step two is, stay in relationship with people.

[00:14:50] David Dowlen: So run me back in step one is

[00:14:54] Dr. Christian Heim: take care of

[00:14:54] David Dowlen: yourself. Take care of yourself. Step two, stay in relationships

[00:14:58] Dr. Christian Heim: and on a practical level, Brent, that, that means if there's a friend that you haven't spoken to for a while, pick up the phone or check them in email and get in contact, or if you've got a problem relationship with a relative, see what you can do to sort things out.

[00:15:14] Share a coffee with somebody make that first step it's uncomfortable, but it's worth doing because you're getting another rope back. And that is very, very important to all of us. Cause we all need each other as ropes. All right.

[00:16:09] Dr. Christian Heim: point number three Brent were rolling into deep water because we're going to emotions

[00:16:13] So step three is manage strong emotions. Men have very strong emotions, so strong that we can we can scare ourselves as to how strong our emotions are. I have to let people know there's nothing wrong with anger. However, when you're in a state of anger, there's a high risk that you may do something destructive

[00:16:36] I spend a lot of time talking to guys about how to deal with anger. And one of the first things to do is actually recognize anger and then find some way to discharge that emotion safely and a brain rather than go into the theory of anger. What I'm going to do is give a very practical tip as to how you can deal with your anger.

[00:16:58] And so one of the techniques that I let guys know about is what I call the traffic light ticket. So at a traffic light, you've got red, yellow, and green meanings. Stop, get ready and go in the anger too. You go stop when you see red. So when you know that you are angry, stop, whatever you're doing, stop, whatever you are saying, then you go to yellow and yellow is.

[00:17:27] Think Christian, what's the next thing that you're going to say? What's the next thing you're going to do. Think Christian, think you are very angry at the moment. Think, and then you go to green, which is go only when you know that you have come up with a safe thing to say, or a safe thing to do. And for people who are very angry, I will actually ask them.

[00:17:48] To prepare themselves so that when they're in an anger state, they say, I've got to go for a walk right now. And then they turn around and March and go for a five kilometer walk because that's the safest thing to do. We all have different levels of anger and we have to have different plans at different levels for different levels of anger.

[00:18:09] But if you can stop when you see it, Think yellow to prepare yourself and then only go once you know that you have something safe to say or do that traffic light technique can help you deal with anger very quickly.

[00:18:28] David Dowlen: All right.

[00:18:33] I feel like we could spend just an hour right. In that zone, as you said, men are just not good. with, I don't believe that

[00:18:43] it's hard to say. I don't believe we're taught by example how to process that, not out of spite, but out of our fathers, weren't taught by example of how to deal with that. And their fathers weren't taught, right? Yeah. Some hair somewhere in the past that just became a I'll figure it out kind of thing. And And so it's just not passed down as something that is taught among men in general.

[00:19:10] I don't know.

[00:19:10] Dr. Christian Heim: Actually in that grandfather's Brent we're taught something very different because the 20th century were full of horrible wars and in a war situation what we actually value is being able to control and suppress your own emotions to get another goal done. So stoicism . And the only way to express anger is against an enemy and using fists or using weapons was glorified.

[00:19:40] We're now in a society where in almost one generation, we've got to turn that around. Don't use your fists, don't pick up any weapons, deal with your emotions. What does that mean? What does that mean? And in one generation we have to change as men. The way that we are expected to handle emotions

[00:20:04] David Dowlen: seems like a monumental task.

[00:20:07] To be honest, it's, I'm listening and processing as you're talking. It's like, wow, that just, that could go so, so badly too.

[00:20:18] Dr. Christian Heim: It could, but Brent, there is hope because all men experience emotions and not all men are dangerous. Not all men have anger issues, most men, and we're talking about the vast majority of men do know how to hang a handle their emotions.

[00:20:36] But if you have trauma in your background, then you can be triggered so that trauma. Flares up again, and then you can be in a situation where you go how do I handle this? And in the book I talk a lot more about how we can handle things like that and all psychiatrists and all psychologists have techniques.

[00:20:55] Like the one that I just shared to help men be able to process their angry emotions and other emotions as well.

[00:21:03] David Dowlen: No I meant that could go badly just because I know. As a man, I get frustrated when I'm trying to change direction on something and it's just not going how I imagine it should go in my head.

[00:21:17] Because we have reality. Then we have the reality. We live in our head where we've played through it a hundred times and tried to play it out over scenario and how we imagine it's going to go versus the real reality. And when the two don't match up, some of us get a little frustrated and that can send us the other direction on that too.

[00:21:37] Yes, it does. It's a unique

[00:21:38] Dr. Christian Heim: problem. Yes. But the things that you're doing right now, Brent, is you're looking at that from the outside saying, this is what happens to me. So it's like you're standing outside of your emotions and your, because you're looking at that, that already means that you've got more control over them, which means that you can put in a plan to say, okay, when I get frustrated, because my reality is not going the way that I imagined it to be.

[00:22:05] What can I do about that? And then you can actually work with pen and paper to come up with some sort of a solution. I can take a bit of a break. I can go for a bit of a walk. I can laugh. Laughter is one of the best things that we have and we need to use more of it. I can exercise. Exercise does so much to drive away depression and anxiety.

[00:22:28] There are so many studies on that, that every man. Needs to be exercising because that's when your body gets to strut it's stuff and feel good about itself. And there's part of being a man, because you've got 20 times the testosterone of a female body. That feels good when it's exercising.

[00:22:46] David Dowlen: Yeah. I'm I'm awaits and a motorcycle guy.

[00:22:49] Wow. That's where I get it out. But I split a lot of wood as a junior high aged kid to get my temper under control. That's wonderful. I just came home and split wood all day long. A lot of calluses earned, trying to learn to control my tempers kid.

[00:23:06] Dr. Christian Heim: Very good. Very good. So let's move on when you do something useful,

[00:23:14] David Dowlen: something I think all of us have to learn at some point is to rechannel that, right?

[00:23:20] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Yes. Re rechanneling is what psychiatrist called sublimation. So if, rather than getting in a fight with somebody. Get good at boxing. Learn the technique, get fit. Think about things as well as feel about things. This is why men love sport. Why do we love watching football or basketball? Because you see the head and the heart coming together, you see the passion to win, but you see people calculating tactics and knowing what other team members are doing to find a way through the opposition.